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Hindu prayer in US Senate draws ire

world Updated: Jul 13, 2007 14:09 IST

Reuters
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Three protesters disrupted a prayer by a Hindu chaplain on Thursday at the opening of a US Senate hearing, calling it an abomination and shouting slogans about Jesus Christ.

It was the first time the daily prayer that opens Senate proceedings was said by a Hindu chaplain.

Capitol police said two women and one man were arrested and charged with causing a disruption in the public gallery of the Senate. The three started shouting when guest Chaplain Rajan Zed, a Hindu from Nevada, began his prayer.

They shouted "No Lord but Jesus Christ" and "There's only one true God," and used the term "abomination."

Religious figures from various faiths have said the prayer, which is normally recited by a Christian chaplain.

Barry Lynn, executive director of religious watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the protest showed the intolerance of the "religious right."

"I don't think the Senate should open with prayers, but if it's going to happen, the invocations ought to reflect the diversity of the American people," Lynn said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had invited Zed.

"I think it speaks well of our country that someone representing the faith of about a billion people comes here and can speak in communication with our heavenly father regarding peace," he said after the disruption.

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